Every year we set out to plan an epic girls trip. This year we thought we were going to go to England for a friends Bachelorette party in September and wanted to spin-off something in Europe from there. So we brainstormed: Iceland/England…England/Iceland/Norway… forget England (sorry Sarah!), just Iceland and Russia… never mind Iceland, Russia: St. Petersburg and Moscow…Or better yet… St. Petersburg, Estonia and Helsinki Finland. However, at the time of our brainstorming,The Bachelorette was on TV and she went to Asia, which got us thinking, how about a return trip to the far east?
That is typically our decision making process – Karisa and I email back and forth for a few days, and then make a decision (which is usually really far from where we first thought we would end up). Inevitably our family and friends say, “why there?” “Are you crazy?” “Can’t you go somewhere “normal”?” But as a fellow traveler, you understand the fun is in the unknown; so Asia it is!
Ultimately we decided that we wanted to hit up Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia… in 13 days. (I know). If you read this blog, you know that we are often very ambitious with our itineraries… sometimes too ambitious. We would consider ourselves efficient, value-friendly, picture posing, see-as-much-as-your-feet-can-stand travelers. Personally, as I get older, my feet see less and less and I look more forward to the experience. But to date, I have loved all the trips we’ve taken, swollen ankles and all!
Down to the nitty-gritty. How to plan a trip; I really enjoy figuring out the logistics of getting from point A to B, and always, ALWAYS find a great deal.
After much debate, we decided on: Hanoi, Vietnam, Halong Bay, Vietnam, Hoi An, Vietnam; Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Langkawi, Malaysia.
After we chose the cities, we have to figure out flights and book airfare (ooooh logistics). We don’t backpack, but still travel light; especially in Asia where you can have your laundry washed for cheap. This helps you reduce baggage fees on the low-cost budget airlines because they charge different amounts for different weights. The other point I’ll make is that since it’s a quick trip, we chose air travel to maximize the time spent in each cities. Obviously, if you’re on a budget you can save a lot of money by taking buses, rather than flying.
Here’s the low down on our airfare:
VietJet: Hanoi to Hoi An: $42.74 (one way)
SilkAir: Hoi An to Siem Reap: $213 (one way)
Air Asia: Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur: $118 (one way)
Air Asia: Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi (RT ticket): $88.06
Total Asia airfare cost: $461.80
Silk Air is a part of the Star Alliance so you can get MILES, but unfortunately not a budget airline, but it was the cheapest option we had to get from Hoi An to Siem Reap. Expensive, but well worth it since Cambodia was destination we couldn’t miss.
Additionally, our international airfare was about $1400.
I booked most of these flights on Skyscanner.com; it’s a better version of Kayak covering most of the “cheap” budget airlines. For this trip, Air Asia was not on Skyscanner, but all the others were. In my experiences, Skyscanner has shown MUCH cheaper prices than Bing, Kayak or even Vayama. I’d recommend that you keep that website in your arsenal of travel tools. My second airfare booking weapon is to check the actual websites prices as well. It’s always a toss-up: sometimes it’s cheaper and sometimes it’s more expensive to book on the airline’s website. In this case, our SilkAir flight was $30 cheaper on their website than through a catchall website.
Curious on how we chose our hotels and where we stayed? There’s a post for that!
This post was written by FWTG contributor, Crystal Doro.